Full Version: Roman Helmet Crests
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Hello All,

i´m new here reading through the boards since some days, my main interest is the late republican/early empire roman army. I have a question about the helmet crests of this time and hope i have not miss a possible answer in all the many messages i read, if so i beg your pardon.
Matt Amt wrote in a post some months ago i just read that the Augustan curved-side scutum would be fine from say 40 BC to middle 1st century AD, and that the imperial gallic helmet appears in numbers around the middle of the 1st century AD. When i remember right there was also written somewhere that a Montefortino Helmet would not be out of place at that time. Now i have a question about the helmet crests. The Montefortino Helmet has the "Caesarian"-style crest, "falling" horse hair. the Coolus could have this, or a boxed crest (please correct me if i am wrong). What´s about the imperial gallic helmet? A boxed crest is ok, but could it have an old style crest like the Montefortino? Were the crests still worn in battle in the middle of the 1st century ad, thinking here especially of the Corbulo Campaign in Armenia in 58 to 62 AD? If yes, were they boxed or falling horse hair?

Thanks in advance
I am of the understanding that the falling crests were out of fashion and more of the box type crest were on the go, with the legionaries anyway, by that time.
I know our auxilliaries use them in the Imperial era, but so far, no legionaries do.
I would if there was evidence that I knew of though.
Perhaps other more knowledgable people will have a better answer for you!

Welcome aboard!
Well, as far as I've seen just about every legionary helmet up to the early second century AD has fittings for a crest, so I certainly don't think they're going out of style! Coolus helmets usually have a knob with a slot, which is generally interpreted as being used for a block-type crest. They may have been short originally, like this one,

but some helmets seem to include a fitting of some kind at the back, so they may have used a longer crest box.

I do NOT think that any later-style helmets such as Imperial-Gallics would have used the much older horse-tail style of crest. That was simply out of fashion by then, and almost none of the fittings on first-century AD helmets are suitable. Once in a while you run across a weird possible retrofitted crest knob or something, and there are helmets like Montefortino F which is dated pretty late. The thing is that Montefortinos have a vertical hole in the knob which apparently accepts a pin from the crest. Coolus knobs generally don't have that, so it would seem the style of crest changed.

Were crests worn in battle after the first century BC? Don't know! It would be really cool, of course, but I usually tell folks they were more likely a parade item by then.


The reason for my question is that i have some beautyfull miniatures here, Sassanids and Roman. It´s no problem to convert the sassanids to parthian with a bit greenstuff, but my "problem" are the romans. They are in lorica hamata, some with apron, and have a mix of Montefortino-, Coolus- and Imperial Gallic Helmets, but all with the old style crests. I thought that this crest was wrong with the imperial gallic helmet, but searching for it i found 2 helmets with a Montefortino / Coolus style knob. This seems to be the retrofitted ones you are talking about.
Thanks for the answers.